Toy bear talks its way to victory with ‘cúpla focal’

DESPITE not understanding the “cúpla focal” spoken by the world’s first Irish-speaking teddy bear, judges still gave it the gold standard in the British Pre-school Awards.

The teddy bear, simply called BB, is the brainchild of the new children’s toy company, Bábógbaby Limited, based in Moycullen, Co Galway.

The company was established by Adrian Devane, already well known as one of Ireland’s youngest and most-promising film producers.

Mr Devane pointed out that the gold award standard for his speaking bear in the awards’ electronic toy category was not easily achieved – products needed an average score of 90% to attain gold.

“What fascinated me was that the judges did not even understand the Irish language but still really liked the toy,” said Mr Devane who received the award in London on Friday.

“For a British organisation to recognise the quality and practicality of our Irish version of BB is just fantastic. It’s like a movie getting five stars or a student getting an A-plus,” he stressed.

Mr Devane, who has worked in the film industry for 12 years, was involved in the production of a number of large-scale feature films for Disney, and with King Arthur and Apocalypto.

“This year was a quiet one for making films so I thought I would start a new business and give it a go,” he said.

The colourful bear features the voice of Mr Devane’s four-year-old daughter, Robyn, and teaches toddlers and children 33 words in Irish.

It has bright buttons to press and responds by speaking friendly-sounding words for basic numbers, colours and shapes.

“Robyn took direction very well for the recording. It only took her 25 minutes to do the 30 words, so I am trying to keep her away from Hollywood for a few more years,” he said.

Mr Devane’s wife, Karen, who helped choose the toy’s bright colours, is expecting their second child next month.

“I am not a fluent Irish speaker myself but I am learning. We live in the Gaeltacht and we speak Irish as much as we can at home,” said Mr Devane.

He said the award would open up a larger market for Bábógbaby. The bear is on sale at €29.99 on ww.babogbaby.com but will be available in all the major toy shops in November.


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